Thing 5: Reflections

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 5: Reflective Practice.

Why reflect?

Reflection of a tree

Reflections at Wicken Fen

As I’m going through my year as a graduate trainee I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how it could be improved, but I’ve not had any structure to this thinking so I’m not really sure how useful most of it has been.  I’ve also written up very little of my thinking, so have probably forgotten a lot of

it and ended up not acting on good ideas because they’ve got forgotten.  I want to learn from the experiences I have and apply what I’ve learnt, not just go “that was nice” and carry on just the same as before.  I think integrating reflective practice into my professional life will help me do that.  Writing down my reflections will be important for a number of reasons – it will help me get my thoughts in order, I can go back later to check that I am applying what I learnt and it will be really useful when preparing for job interviews.

When and where to reflect?

Firstly, I need to decide what I am going to reflect on.  I don’t have the time to reflect on everything I do – if I did I would spend more time reflecting than doing!  I’m not really comfortable with sharing all my reflections publicy.  I know everybody makes mistakes and the important thing is to learn from them,  but I don’t think I will be as truthful if I know other people will be reading it.   Though anything I write which I am happy with other people reading will find it’s way to a blog post in case anyone finds it useful.

How to reflect?

I really like having structure and a plan for anything I’m doing so I like the idea of having a framework for reflective writing.  I found the Greenaway and Borton models mentioned in the cpd23 post and this post from last year’s cpd23 by Katie Birkwood useful in coming up with my own framework:

1. Describe the event/project/session/thing.

2. Did I do any preparation/organising/planning for it?

3. Why did I do it?  What were the aims of the project/event/session/thing and were they met?  If not how and why?

4. What have I learnt?

5. What was successful?

6. What was not successful/were there any problems and how were these overcome?

7. What do I wish I had done differently?

8. Action points – what am I going to do now/do differently in the future based on this experience?

The thing I think I need to concentrate on when when reflecting is critically evaluating and not just reviewing what I have done.  The other challenge will be to remember to follow through with my action points.  Perhaps I will keep a folder of all my reflections and periodically check through all the action points.